Science Olympiad Takes on State
by Savannah Graziano
On the weekend of April 21, Northside’s Science Olympiad team hopped on a bus and drove down to Urbana-Champaign for a day-long competition on all things science. Lead by Captain Tallulah Cartalucca, Adv. 910, the varsity team was well prepared to take on the 40 other high school teams from across Illinois. Students who participated in the events prepared for the competition throughout the year, holding weekly practices and smaller-team meetings to strategize their performance. Team members knew that their diligent work would pay off and were confident in their abilities as they went downstate to compete.
In some elementary and middle schools in Chicago, Science Olympiad is an opportunity offered as early as kindergarten, with competitions starting at grade six. At this age, the competitions begin to function in a more serious manner, as groups of science-loving individuals come together and function like a sports team. Cartalucca, who first participated in Science Olympiad in fifth grade, said that her experience with the program has varied over the years. She noted that some of the events change every year, which gives her something new and exciting to do every competition. The Science Olympiad website sites the reason for this as “reflecting the ever-changing nature of [different science fields]...by combining events from all disciplines, Science Olympiad encourages a wide cross-section of students to get involved.”
This year, the 15 varsity members and more than 20 junior varsity members came together via their love of science and passion for their events. When asked about the appeal of the team, Cartalucca said, “It’s a lot of fun to learn about a lot of different topics that you wouldn’t be able to in a normal classroom. You gain an understanding of scientific concepts in a cool, fun way.” Competitions are designed to keep students engaged and learning. Science Olympiad member Amulya Aluru, Adv. 906, said, “I joined Science Olympiad in eighth grade and started at Northside my freshman year. A lot of the people I know have done it their whole lives. I think it’s a really great way to learn more about topics that aren’t traditionally taught in classrooms and meet people who share the same interests as you.” Both also included that they were proud of the team and everyone’s accomplishments and dedication.
The Science Olympiad competition is divided into five categories: life, personal and social science, earth and space science, physical science and chemistry, technology and engineering, and inquiry and nature of science. There are also 23 events spread across the five categories. The events themselves all have tests, build competitions, and hands-on events, all of which are completed in pairs within a team. All members of a team participate in two to three events, which ensures that each member is versatile in their scientific abilities.
Even though she was placed into a wide variety of categories, Cartalucca seemed unphased and spoke with excitement about each. In Forensics, Cartalucca, along with partner Audrey Ruhana, Adv. 903, were given powder and fiber samples from a crime and allowed time to use chemistry tests and the scientific method to solve it. For Anatomy/Physiology, Cartalucca and Gyury Lee, Adv. 001, memorized the specifics of the immune, respiratory, and digestive systems in order to take a test on their knowledge. In her final event, Write it, Do it, Cartalucca was given a random sculpture and asked to write directions on how it could be built. Her partner, Zoe Myatt, Adv. 003, was given materials and the directions written by Cartalucca, and had to recreate the initial sculpture. Cartalucca attributed much of her success to her partners and emphasized the teamwork that went into every event.
As a whole, the team was very successful and placed 33rd overall, with numerous pairs placing top three in their events. When recapping the team’s success, Aluru said, “It was really fun and even though we didn’t do as well as we did last year, I feel like we bonded as a team and I got closer to a lot of people I didn’t really talk to before the weekend.” The team had a great time at the competition and are excited to go back even stronger next year. Daniel Panganiban, Adv. 905, summed up the team’s experience when he said, “Science Olympiad state was the most fun competition of Science Olympiad. It was a lot of fun preparing for the competition. Although the events were hard and disappointing sometimes, the experience of being with a good team made it very worthwhile. I just hope we go to state again next year so we have just as much fun.”